Rugby All Blacks move into overdrive to sink plucky Pumas

Argentina trailed New Zealand by two points with half an hour to go in Hamilton, but ultimately lost by 35 as the All Blacks hit top gear.

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New Zealand maintained their perfect record in the Rugby Championship in style on Saturday, producing an awesome second-half display to thump Argentina 57-22 in Hamilton.

For more than 50 minutes, the Pumas appeared capable of recording a shock victory - their first over the All Blacks - as they impressed with ball in hand and capitalised on frequent indiscipline from the hosts.

However, the world champions then pulled clear in ruthless fashion - courtesy of four tries in 13 minutes - and were ultimately emphatic winners in front of Warren Gatland, the man recently reappointed as coach of the British and Irish Lions, who tour New Zealand last year.

Ryan Crotty and Ben Smith claimed two tries apiece for the All Blacks, who now boast three wins from three, while Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Charlie Faumuina and Luke Romano also went over.

Argentina crossed first after just three minutes, Santiago Cordero surging under the posts following a line-break from Martin Landajo, and proved competitive for the remainder of the opening period.

After Barrett had hit the post with a penalty attempt, New Zealand drew level courtesy of a simple set-piece try from Savea. Steve Hansen's men twice turned down shots at goal and were rewarded when two passes from their second scrum left Savea with a simple finish.

A destructive run from Savea led to a first score for Smith, who then produced a deft grubber kick that sat up perfectly for Barrett to add the All Blacks' third try.

Yet those scores were not enough to shake off the visitors, who showed plenty of enterprise in their own attacking play and trailed by just five points at the interval thanks to four penalties from Nicolas Sanchez.

A fifth three-pointer from Sanchez followed an impressive spell of Argentina pressure at the start of the second half, during which Sam Cane limped off with a left leg injury.

That proved to be as good as things got for Argentina, though, as the All Blacks suddenly hit top form.

Fly-half Barrett provided the initial spark, gliding past several defenders before taking possession again in the next phase and putting Crotty through a gap to score.

From that moment on there was no stopping New Zealand, with Faumuina, Crotty and Smith all going over in quick succession as their opponents wilted. An eighth All Blacks try arrived late on when Aaron Cruden's kick wide bounced off the shoulder of Israel Dagg and into the arms of replacement Romano.

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